SC verdict on ‘truth tests’ today
The Supreme Court will on Wednesday pronounce its verdict on the constitutional validity of narco-analysis, brain mapping and polygraph tests, increasingly being used by investigating agencies to unravel conspiracy in complicated criminal cases.
The verdict comes 27 months after a bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan reserved it after hearing several individuals who challenged its validity, the CBI and the Centre.
It will decide the fate of dozens of accused, including Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy, Gujarat’s ‘God Mother’ Santokhben Jadeja and former BJP politician Pramod Mahajan. Abdul Karim Telgi, accused in the stamp paper scam, had been subjected to narco-analysis test while in case of other accused the trial court orders were stayed by superior courts.
A definitive pronouncement by the apex court will settle the legal position on the issue. As of now there is no specific law either to authorise or to regulate the use of these tests, which many consider intrusive.
According to the petitioners, narco-analysis, brain mapping and polygraph tests are illegal and unconstitutional, as these violate an individual’s fundamental right under Article 20(3) of the Constitution that says, “No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.”
Further, these intrusive tests violate a suspect’s ‘right to privacy’ that forms part of right to life and liberty, a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21, they contend. Investigative agencies have been defending the use of these tests saying it is necessary to deal with organised crime and terrorism and to crack complicated cases.